The Revolution are transforming themselves from one of the most frugal squads to one of the higher-spending teams in Major League Soccer. The Revolution’s cash splash accelerated with the commitment of at least $16 million for the acquisition of Argentinian striker Gustavo Bou, whose signing was confirmed Wednesday.
Bou, 29, arrives from Mexico’s Club Tijuana in a deal that includes $12 million in transfer fees and guaranteed salary, and could “exceed $16 million” with bonuses and options, according to a league source.
“He’s a different class,” Revolution sporting director/head coach Bruce Arena said. “He gives us a real bit of quality in the attacking end of the field. He’s an attacking player. He’s not necessarily a 9 [center forward], not necessarily a 10 [midfield playmaker], but he’s an attacking player and he can help create goals, and we’re pleased to have him. He’s coming here with a great attitude and he can help us build a team that is better than the one we have.”
Bou started his career with River Plate, moved to Olimpo, then LDU Quito in Ecuador, before returning to Argentina with Gimnasia y Escrima de La Plata and Racing. Bou went to Tijuana on a $9 million transfer in 2017.
Bou scored 10 goals in 16 games in all competitions in this year’s Liga MX Clausura season and Liguilla (playoffs). Bou, who has converted 73 goals in 222 games in all competitions, according to www.transfermarkt.com , is awaiting a P1 visa and could be available when the Revolution visit D.C. United on Friday.
In the last year, the Revolution have brought in defender Michael Mancienne ($1 million in salary) and Spanish midfielder Carles Gil ($2 million salary plus a $2 million transfer fee from Deportivo La Coruna), their priciest outlay until Bou. The Revolution also began construction on a $35 million training center behind Gillette Stadium.
In May, the Revolution hired Arena, the most successful coach in the league’s 24-year history. Arena’s arrival coincided with a sharp turnaround, as the Revolution (6-8-5, 23 points) have moved into a tie for seventh place in the Eastern Conference. The team has appeared capable of making a playoff push, and the arrival of Bou, plus the possible addition of other players, could give the Revolution hopes of going far in the playoffs.
“I don’t worry about those things,” Arena said of expectations being raised. “We are not sitting around every day thinking about being mediocre. We’re thinking about being good. We’re thinking about the next challenge and we’re going to D.C. United to try and win that game.”
Forwards Teal Bunbury and Juan Fernando Caicedo have carried the Revolution scoring load as the team has escaped the cellar and moved into playoff contention with a 4-0-3 mark since May 8.
“We have good players,” Arena said. “Caicedo has played well of late, Teal has scored in almost every game since I’ve been here. Gil is a very good playmaker and we think he can get goals for us. We’re certainly thinking [Bou] can help us get goals.”
Until recently, Revolution investors Robert and Jonathan Kraft said they would spend only on high-profile Designated Players, and they had success with Jermaine Jones in 2014. Jones, who earned a team-record $3.25 million salary, helped the Revolution reach the 2014 MLS Cup final (2-1 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy, coached by Arena) and qualify for the 2015 playoffs. But Jones departed after the 2015 season and the Revolution have not been involved in the postseason since.
Now, the Krafts have apparently decided to go for highly-competent, lesser-known prospects.
The Revolution’s expenditures are not major on a global scale. But they are high compared to most MLS competition, though short of reigning MLS Cup champion Atlanta United, which has doled out $50 million in transfer fees since joining the league in 2017.
A total of 10 Argentina-born players have performed for the Revolution, starting with Alberto Naveda, a former Boca Juniors midfielder, signed out of a tryout camp in 1996. The team’s first Designated Player was striker Milton Caraglio, acquired from Rosario Central late in the 2011 season. Caraglio, who had been called up to the Argentina national team (but did not play in a game), totaled three goals in 12 games as the Revolution finished in last place in the Eastern Conference. Caraglio then departed on loan to Pescara in Italy’s Serie A and is now starring with Cruz Azul in Mexico.
The Revolution’s spending spree is part of a plan that includes constructing a stadium in Boston.
“We want to build a soccer stadium and get our team better and compete for a championship year in and year out,” Arena said. “Whether that happens this year or next year, we will try to be as good a team as we can be.”